Those Oklahoma legislators who might be thinking about pushing a bill allowing students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on the state’s college campuses should pay attention to a recent gun incident at a Los Angeles high school.
According to media reports, a 17-year-old student at Gardena High School was recently arrested when a gun he was carrying in a backpack accidently misfired in a classroom and hit two 15-year-old students. One of the students, struck in the head, remains in critical condition.
Two of the most operative terms in the incident for anyone who teaches college in this state right now are “student” and “backpack.” As I can personally attest, and this is more than anecdotal evidence, there are thousands of students who carry backpacks on college campuses in this state.
So if we get “carry on campus” here, how many backpacks will be filled with guns? How many guns will misfire? How many guns will be used directly to shoot someone?
In the past, state Rep. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) has tried to pass legislation that will allow students and faculty to carry concealed guns on campus in Oklahoma, arguing it’s a protection issue. Murphey has said he won’t introduce such legislation this year, but that he does expect someone in the Senate to sponsor a bill, according to a media report.
Even if you allow that Murphey’s main concern is protecting students and faculty from shooters like the one who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, there is still much wrong with the idea of arming our campuses here or elsewhere.
Here’s a rundown:
(1) There absolutely will be gun misfires, and people will get tragically shot in classrooms for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
(2) Some students and faculty members, even if they are licensed or certified, might not have the police skills to take down a shooter. What if they misread the situation? What if their actions actually increase the number of shots fired?
(3) How will police or even a faculty member or an administrator know who the bad person is if suddenly there are two or three weapons getting fired in a classroom or in a hallway or in an office foyer?
(4) College campuses will always be places where many students undergo a lot of transition in their lives. This transition can often create temporary emotional tension. This emotional tension shouldn’t get mixed up with guns.
Chancellor Glen Johnson has rightfully announced his opposition to any “carry on campus” legislation that gets proposed. Count on the state’s college presidents to also oppose it.
By all means, let’s secure our schools and colleges and make them safe, but let’s do it in ways that make sense.